The village of Ashford Bowdler (known in Domesday as Esseford) lies along the banks of the River Teme, adjacent to Ashford Carbonel and some three miles south of Ludlow.
Ashford Bowdler is small (50 persons) and consists of a few houses next to the church of St Andrew. It was probably given its name by Henry de Boudler who held the manor by one fourth of a knights fee of the Honour of Richards Castle. The Patent Roll for February 8th 1263 states “protection, until Michaelmas, to wit during the war with Wales within that term, for…Henry de Bulers…and Richard Carbonel and their men, lands, rents and possessions”.
The name ‘Ashford’ was derived from ‘Ash-tree ford’. The ford was at the end of River Lane at a place called ‘Ternes’s Green’ and was replaced by the bridge designed by Thomas Telford and built in 1797.
It is believed that the Norman church of Saint Andrew was founded in 1211 on ground held by the Benedictine Priory of Bromfield though little of the original church remains. It is a very attractive building with a wooden porch and shingled bellcote and is perched, almost precariously, on the very steep banks of the River Teme. Its Norman origin is confirmed by the two blocked round-arched doorways on the north and south sides of the nave, both partly obscured from inside by the monuments on the walls. It is believed that these doorways may have been used by passing pilgrims seeking a blessing on their way. The church consists simply of a nave and chancel and is small enough to almost seem to belong to the Georgian Church House opposite, rather than the house belonging to the church. With its white paint and iron porch, Church House is the epitome of a rectory of its time.
At the beginning of the last century the church was deemed to be in poor shape and major restoration work was put in hand. This included buttressing of the south wall, removal of plasterwork and underpinning of the chancel. This latter work did not prove entirely successful as shortly afterwards the entire chancel collapsed into the river below taking with it the stained glass east window and the old furniture including a 3 tier pulpit. When the chancel was rebuilt the following year it was shorter and included a modest foundation retaining wall.
From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868):
“ASHFORD-BOWDLER, a parish in the hundred of Lower Munslow, in the county of Salop, 3 miles to the S.E. of Ludlow. The river Teme runs through it. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Hereford, value £55, in the patronage of C. Walker, Esq. The chapel is dedicated to St. Andrew. The principal residences are Ashford-Bowdler Court and Ashford-Bowdler Hall.“